The Friendly MO Rabbi

The leading Modern Orthodox pulpit rabbis tend to not to be particularly friendly. Kalman Topp, Asher Brander and Steven Weil are exceptions. They’re people people. Most of Modern Orthodox rabbis seem to want to spend no more time with their congregants than is required for their job.

How many Modern Orthodox rabbis do you know who want to play basketball or hike or hang out with kids?

Aron Tendler was friendly. He would constantly extend himself to people. He used to work out regularly at LA Fitness in the 1980s along with a YULA boys student who once put his hands on this girl’s ass in the gym. She turned out to be the daughter of LAPD police chief Darryl Gates. The kid, a troublemaker, was immediately kicked out of YULA. It’s rare for any MO rabbi to spend any time with teenagers beyond what was required for his job. What sane adult wants to spend time with kids beyond his own?

R. Jonathan Rosenblatt is an exception. He’s very heimish (friendly). He’d invite kids to shvitz with him. Do we have any Los Angeles rabbis who are equal to him in learning? Perhaps Abner Weiss.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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